National Forum on Literary Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts
Key objectives of the measure:

To address the shifting literary landscape, in 2014 the Canada Council for the Arts worked with the literary community to create an unprecedented multisectoral and Canada-wide conversation about these changes: a National Forum on Literary Arts. The objectives of the Forum were to galvanize the literary arts community and its stakeholders around a shared vision, and to work on a blueprint for the future. Designed along the lines of a summit conference, the forum featured two days of meetings and discussions intended to work towards a positive vision for the future of Canadian literature. Its purpose was to better understand the ecology and unique challenges of the milieu and to allow the extended community to exchange best practices and ways forward.

The event was organized around four themes: creation, publication/production, dissemination and sustainability. The idea for the Forum arose out of the widely shared observation that the world of literature and publishing is far from immune to the upheavals caused by the current digital age. Neither fully understood nor integrated into the practices of the community, these changes, which are currently taking place to varying degrees, will intensify, making it a good time for the Canada Council and stakeholders to look at the questions raised by the changing dynamics of the Canadian literary milieu. For example: what does an author expect of her publisher today? How is access to books evolving with the technological revolution? How is the democratization of publishing seen? How are reading habits changing?

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Scope of the measure:
Nature of the measure:
Main feature of the measure:

In mid-2013, the Canada Council assembled a Partners committee of provincial and territorial funding agencies and a Steering committee of 20 peers from the literary milieu, and hired two consultants to help manage the project. The Partners committee members were selected from the Canadian Public Arts Funders (CPAF) network. Their role was to provide advice and guidance on the Forum and to ensure that a broad range of delegates would participate. The Steering committee was tasked with setting the Forum’s objectives and devising the program, and worked diligently to develop the objectives and prepare the theme documents with the goal of sparking lively discussions at the Forum.

In February of 2014, some 250 people representing various sectors of the industry gathered in Montréal to develop a roadmap to respond to changes in the sector, identify future paths for sustainability and provide tools to adapt to new emerging models. The Forum was a valuable opportunity for participants to share their thoughts, ideas and questions about the future of the literary arts in Canada in stimulating and interactive sessions. There were two speakers, as well as roundtables on the themes of creation, production/publication, dissemination and sustainability.

After the Forum, the Canada Council presented its report and developed a plan for continuity and follow-up, so that ideas related to the themes and results can be shared to maintain an ongoing dialogue.

The summary report on the Forum may be accessed here:

Results expected through the implementation of the measure:

The expected result of the forum is that the literary community will unite around a shared vision and work on a blueprint for the future. The forum was seen as the first step in what is hoped to be an ongoing dialogue on the future.

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One of the main recommendations from the Forum was that the community was to continue the dialogue. In addition to some informal regional discussions, a notable follow-up to the National Forum was the Canadian Writers’ Summit, held June 15-19, 2016 in Toronto. This conference was jointly hosted by a cohort of Canadian writer organizations, which are listed at the following address: To continue the discussions from the National Forum, the summit programming included: professional development sessions, keynote talks, pedagogy and policy discussions, scholarly presentations, public lectures, and networking opportunities.

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Financial resources allocated to implement the measure:

The total cost of the National Forum on Literary Arts, not including the expenses for the Steering committee, was $270,488 CAD.

Goal(s) of UNESCO's 2005 Convention
Cultural Domain(s)